Gordon SNP MP Richard Thomson is calling on Home Secretary Priti Patel to act on the recommendations of the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to aid the meat processing sector.
The MAC has recommended that butchers/meat processing workers be added to the Shortage Occupation List – which would make it easier for processing plants to recruit migrant workers to plug the shortfall in workers currently being experienced. Despite the recommendation being made in September 2020, the Home Office has so far failed to act on the MAC’s advice. Meanwhile, there are concerns across the sector, including renderers and farmers, that the shortage of skilled workers will impact on their businesses.
Following representations from constituents, Richard Thomson has written to Home Secretary Priti Patel urging action. Commenting, he said:
“I am aware from businesses and farmers there is a great deal of concern that the UK Government has so far failed to act on the recommendations from the Migration Advisory Committee in respect of butchers/meat processing workers and the shortage occupation list.
“It is particularly remiss of the UK Government and symptomatic of its attitude towards Scottish agriculture and business that this was entirely avoidable as Quality Meat Scotland flagged-up exactly this scenario in a report preparing for Brexit back in 2017.”
In his letter to the Home Secretary, Mr Thomson wrote:
“The role of non-UK labour is of fundamental importance in the slaughter and processing sector. The red meat supply chain in Scotland generates an annual output of some £2.4 billion GVA, and employs more than 33,000 people, with migrant labour playing a key role. This should come as no surprise to your department as Quality Meat Scotland highlighted this in a Brexit briefing paper as far back as June 2017. It is therefore extremely disappointing that the UK Government has thus far failed to recognise this and act on the recommendations of the Migration Advisory Committee.
“Many meat processing businesses are located in areas with unemployment levels which have historically been below the national average, such as Aberdeenshire, making recruitment an issue and migrant labour all the more important.
“I therefore request that you give this matter urgent consideration and act on the recommendations of the Migration Advisory Committee on meat processing workers.”